‘An unabashedly political novel’ – I am China by Xiaolu Guo


i am china pbIncluded in Granta’s latest list of Best Young British Novelists, Xiaolu Guo became a British citizen around ten years ago, after a film she made gave her ‘a political problem’ in China. I am China is her tenth novel; the fourth she has written in English (she began writing in English out of necessity, due to difficulties getting her work translated from Chinese).

I am China is a story within a story: Iona, a British translator, is assigned the translation of a bunch of love letters from Chinese to English. The letters trace the relationship of Mu and Jian, a mysterious figure who appears to be a Chinese punk musician turned political dissident seeking refuge in Europe. Over the course of the correspondence it becomes apparent that Jian has influential parents, and that the Chinese state has even more interest than usual in covering up his story. Whereas many Chinese…

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